Wrapped wedding gifts
Credit: Art Montes De Oca/Getty Images

Shopping for the perfect wedding gift can be stressful sometimes—how do you make sure you buy something that will not end up getting returned or collecting dust in the couple’s basement? After all, your present is an extension of your love and appreciation for the soon-to-be husband and wife. To help you in your search, we talked to experts and got their best advice on finding a great gift that is sure to please.

1. Cover the basics

“Registering has evolved from being about fine china to couples wanting pieces they can cherish and use in their everyday lives,” says Nora Lee, Pottery Barn’s merchandise director on registry. What that means is: focus on casual living and dining items. Classic white dishes and towels may seem like boring gifts but the truth is that they are functional and will actually be of use to the couple.

2. Pool together with other guests

“Consider partnering with others to purchase the couple one of their more expensive items. They'll really appreciate it,” suggests Jessica Joyce of Bed Bath & Beyond. In other words, unite and conquer. Instead of buying a bunch of cheap “leftover” items from the registry, ask around to see if any of the other guests would be interested in teaming up to get the couple an expensive good-quality dinnerware set that would normally be too pricey for you (or anyone else, really) to buy on your own.

3. Customize your gift

A monogram with the couple’s initials would instantly add a personalized touch to a traditional wedding gift such as a set of wine glasses or bath towels. It also shows that you cared enough to take the time and make the present special and memorable. And if you know the couple well, you can even opt for a more creative way to personalize their gift—an artsy collage of their photos or an old map of the city where they got engaged customized with their names and wedding date, for example.

4. Stick to the registry

This is a no-brainer but it also requires you to act quickly and purchase a wedding gift as early as you possibly can before all the “good” items on the registry are gone. We all want to get a one-of-a-kind present but sometimes buying your beloved friends the blender they’ve needed for a while would make them appreciate your gift a lot more than something “cool and unexpected” that would eventually end up in their storage unit. As Joyce says: “The couple put it on the registry because they really want it!”

5. Home décor is a No

Take it from a real bride (aka my friend Lindsey): “Don’t ever get home décor, you never know someone's taste.” Yes, you may think that the colorful cubist painting you saw at a gallery opening may be a great apartment centerpiece but buying it for someone else’s living room is not a good idea.